Kieran McCarthy said: “There are major questions to be asked about how the Health Minister ended up in this situation. This pressure has clearly been building up over several years, but we have had too much complacency over emerging problems and too little progress on reform.
“In contrast to the reassurances from previous years of the budget being fit for purpose, we are now being told that the situation is one of crisis. Indeed, this Minister has squandered money on pointless legal challenges over blood donation, and resources have been wasted on more costly private sector providers than the NHS to address waiting lists.
“I am fully aware of the pressures being faced by the front-line in the health service and the magnificent work that is being carried out in adverse circumstances. That is why Alliance is committed to ensuring that we have an efficient and effective National Health Service.
“We are open to considering additional resources for health and social services, but that has to come in the context of a proper strategic review of expenditure across the board by the Executive, taking into account critical pressures in a number of areas including policing and justice, economic development, and the existing inefficiencies within the health service.
“The current financial situation is now compounded through the failure of the Executive and Assembly to agree the way forward on welfare reform, with both nationalist parties to blame, and the unwarranted ring-fencing of the Education Budget. Reversing positions on these issues would open up the prospect of providing short-term relief to funding pressures in health and other critical public services.”